Posts Tagged ‘fish’
I’m comfortable with dining alone. If I’m out and about on errands during the day I will have lunch by myself. There are many restaurants with counter seating which is perfect for one. I will perch on a stool and scroll the news headlines on my mobile as I eat. These contemplative meals tend to be at casual eateries so I was apprehensive about my booking at The Ledbury in London.
Chef Brett Graham is Australian and The Ledbury piqued my interest during the London riots. The restaurant was attacked by a mob and the staff armed themselves with kitchen accoutrements to defend patrons. There is an Aussie larrikin spirit to that!
With two Michelin stars, The Ledbury has a prix fixe lunch menu at the bargain price of £35 for three courses. The stately dining room was decorated in warm tones with chandeliers, mirrored walls draped with curtains, tablecloths and upholstered chairs.
It was a full lunch service. There was a group in a business meeting, a family celebrating a birthday, and tourists in shorts and visors.
An amuse bouche of foie gras mousse on hemp biscuit was the centrepiece on a rustic ceramic plate.
Speyside and Glenlivet are words I associate with Scotch but the area is also a pristine source of natural spring water.
A wicker basket cocooned warm onion and bacon, sourdough, and malt bread rolls. The onion and bacon scroll was dense and savoury.
The first course was a salad of spring vegetables with crisp pheasant egg and Parmesan. There was a collective gasp from the adjacent table when this was presented. It was an artistic arrangement of tender batons. Vibrant radishes, carrots, asparagus, beans, peas and micro greens complemented the richness of the Parmesan encased pheasant egg.
My entrée silverware with replaced with a spoon. I was pondering how to cut hogget with the blunt, round edge when a shallow bowl was served. The waiter announced it was a pre-course of Cornish brill with radishes, barley, shellfish consommé and cream of white beer. Delicate and flaky, the white filet paired well with the briny broth. This was an ode to the ocean.
A serrated knife was swiftly set. The waiter wryly described hogget as middle aged sheep. The plate was a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. A wedge of aubergine glazed in black sugar and garlic, dots of green tomato juice and flecks of dried olive were in a jus with three cuts of unctuous heritage prime biodynamic hogget.
A shot glass was layered with passionfruit jelly and vanilla cream, a sweet and tart palate cleanser.
Dessert was a vivid parfait of dried flowers topped with gariguette and wild strawberries, and white chocolate. A puddle of warm tapioca was textural and temperature contrast to the icy smooth parfait.
Petit fours from left to right: eucalyptus chocolate, earl grey biscuit and mandarin jelly.
Lunch was nearly three hours and I read that day’s Guardian newspaper in between courses!
The main meal of the day, taken either around MIDDAY or in the EVENING.
A formal evening meal, typically one in honour of a person or event.
From Old French disner
I’m a frequent snacker. I enjoy long, leisurely meals but at home I munch on McVitie’s, fruits, nuts and muesli bars throughout the day. It’s both sustenance and habit.
With a 9:45pm reservation for our anniversary dinner, I had to prepare for a late night meal. I had a substantial lunch, potato crisps from the minibar and a Kind bar in the afternoon, and napped prior to going to the Mandarin Oriental for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. We waited for our table at the bar with a glass of wine and nibbled on a bowl of rice crackers in a lively atmosphere.
Dinner is the younger sibling of Heston Blumenthal‘s famous The Fat Duck. It has one Michelin star and debuted at number nine, the highest new entry, on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Named for ‘British quirky history and linguistic playfulness’, Dinner’s menu is a homage to traditional recipes cooked with modern techniques and local ingredients.
An elegant dining room with a panoramic view of Hyde Park, chocolate furniture and ivory walls complemented the high ceiling.
Clusters of jelly moulds made whimsical lights on pillars.
Nearing 10pm and feeling hungry, I was delighted to nibble on complimentary bread. I love the succinct menu in the format of dish, year originated, components and price.
Circa 1730, the hay smoked mackerel was garnished with lemon salad and gentleman’s relish, and drizzled with olive oil. The greens tempered the pungent, oily fish.
A couple of seasons ago MasterChef Australia contestants had to replicate several of Heston Blumenthal’s signature dishes and I was fascinated by meat fruit, circa 1500. A sphere of chicken liver parfait is dipped in glossy mandarin jelly. I discarded the authentic stem, and cut into the skin and flesh of the meat fruit. Spread thickly on grilled bread, the silky smooth parfait was tinged with citrus notes. It was soft and rich, best shared with the complimentary bread.
The Hereford ribeye, circa 1830, was the star of the plate. A tender cut, the beef was seasoned and perfectly medium rare.
The steak was paired with triple cooked chips and mushroom ketchup. Crunchy and luscious, the chips were starchy batons of joy.
Our waiter explained that umbles are offal and the phrase ‘eating humble pie’ is derived from the medieval specialty of umble pie. Morsels of umbles dotted the powdered duck breast, circa 1670. Portions of succulent duck and supple confit fennel were in a pool of savoury jus.
Fresh and bright, a side of green beans and shallots was the requisite vegetable.
On a wooden board was a Staub cocotte of brioche and a strip of spit roast pineapple. Circa 1810, the tipsy cake was ethereal and aromatic. Sweetly caramelised, the tropical fruit was a textural contrast to the custard soaked brioche.
We had watched the nitro ice cream trolley being wheeled from couples to groups all evening and I gleefully replied ‘yes please’ when asked. Liquid nitrogen is poured with a flourish and the handle cranked to churn the vanilla ice cream. Scooped into a dainty thin sugar cone, the ice cream was dipped in a selection of toppings. The freeze dried raspberries had a concentrated flavour and the popping candy was fun!
Our celebration concluded with chocolate ganache and caraway biscuit, courtesy of the chef with exquisite penmanship.
It was midnight, and patrons lingered at the restaurant and bar as we exited into the cold London spring, contented by the Heston Blumenthal experience.
It was a glorious Monday in London and we spent the only clear weather we had outdoors. I gallivanted about Westminster in the morning fending off tourists with unwieldy maps and gargantuan DSLRs. We merrily roamed Kew Gardens in the afternoon, steamed in Victoria era glasshouses and felt the spring blades of grass between our toes.
Famished and fatigued, dinner at Nopi was a nourishing conclusion to a lovely day.
A lampshade of rustic bronze leaves greeted patrons.
The glare of the all white interior was diffused by the lighting creating a warm ambience.
A beautiful bouquet in pink hues marked the serving table where platters of salads and loaves of bread were displayed in a front corner of the dining room.
On the left was the grapefruit and lychee cooler, a fruity cocktail of lemon infused vodka, lychee and grapefruit juices, lemon, sugar and mint.
The menu was categorised into vegetables, fish and meat. We agreed to let our waiter order for us and our group of seven had nine dishes family style.
The first was roasted aubergine with black garlic, harissa and pine nuts. Eggplant halves were roasted until silky, its soft flesh contrasted with the crunch of the pine nuts.
I’m neutral on lentils so I only had a tiny spoonful of these green ones with shaved beetroot and radish, and berbere croutons. An African spice blend, the berbere was an appetising seasoning for the bland but nutritious lentils.
Sambal rubbed gurnard was wrapped in banana leaf. The fish fillet was succulent and fiery.
A sphere of burrata was paired with slices of blood orange and coriander seeds. The squeaky mozzarella oozed with cream, and the herby and citrus notes tempered the richness.
Portions of twice cooked baby chicken was dipped in chilli sauce and sprinkled with lemon myrtle salt. The distinct Mediterranean flavours were bold and vibrant.
A cube of pork belly was in a pool of grape mustard jus. The fatty meat was balanced by the wedges of caramelised nashi pear.
In a skillet was seared prawns tossed with feta, fennel and Pernod.
Two golden orbs were courgette and Manouri fritters. Dipped in a cooling lime yoghurt, the mixture of zucchini and Greek cheese were savoury bites.
The last of our waiter’s selection was a ‘cheesecake’. Valdeón, a Spanish blue cheese, was baked in a copper pot and garnished with pickled beetroot and thyme honey. I prefer this version to dessert cheesecakes!
This scoop of sorbet was the essence of pear.
A classic English treat, this Eton mess of meringue, sumac and rose syrup was topped with a quenelle of strawberry sorbet.
Delightfully warm and fluffy financiers were shared.
It snowed in Whistler on Christmas Day and I loved it. Snowflakes zigzagged gently from the sky and dusted every surface. I was delighted with my first white Christmas. The powdered slopes were serene and the magic carpet was quiet. We skied in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon.
Survivor like torches guarded the entrance of the restaurant.
A cascade of glass globes were strung together as a sparkling chandelier.
The interior was warm and welcoming. On the far left was a champagne bar and Belvedere Ice Room. The main dining room was buzzing with families and friends celebrating Christmas. We were seated at a table with a view of the busy kitchen. Service was traditional fine dining style with a cocktail cart, sommelier and a plethora of staff.
Enticed by the cocktail cart, we ordered apéritifs as we composed our three courses. The bartender was a little absent minded. Ms S asked for recommendations for a refreshing cocktail and he referred her to the menu. Intrigued by dehydrated beer as an ingredient, Mr L ordered a Caesar. Unbeknown to our group of Australians, Caesar is a Canadian cocktail with Clamato juice which was not listed. We had the same expression after one sip each and it was abandoned.
An amuse bouche of salmon tartare whetted our appetite.
My first course was arctic char. From left to right: gravlax and celeriac, tartare and blini, and smoked and sorrel. Similar texture and milder flavour to salmon and trout, the morsels were perfectly paired.
Photographing was a challenge in the dim lighting! Ms S selected the Pemberton beets and carrots with shaved ricotta salata, spicy greens and white balsamic. It was artistically presented and I sampled a lump of white beet which was sugary.
The gentlemen had the wild mushroom soup with truffles. Poured at the table, the soup was a thick liquid with an earthy aroma.
A tangy citrus granita was the palate cleanser between courses.
The sommelier recommended a local wine, Foxtrot 2008 Pinot Noir. It was a classic match for our game main courses.
Three rare slices of Yarrow Meadows duck breast rested on a plump duck confit ravioli, squash purée, cauliflower florets, beets and pumpkin seeds. The dish was well seasoned and the meat tender, and the components were a delectable combination.
Mr S chose the wild game tasting plate of wild boar wrapped in venison and braised bison short rib with wild mushroom and heirloom bean ragoût. The other couple picked the chef’s Christmas special of goose.
We spotted a cheese cart and the fromage expert was friendly and helpful. We shared a bleu, a local cheddar and a semi soft, with raisins, candied walnuts, fig jam and crisp fruit bread.
I was determined to photograph dessert and I persisted with the single flickering candle as my light source. Served on a slate plate, the geometrical coconut and pineapple had frozen coconut mousse, Meyer lemon and kafir lime sorbet, pineapple and espelette jelly, rum caramel macadamia and cilantro. It tasted like a sophisticated piña colada!
A deconstructed St Honoré was a log of vanilla crème chiboust, coffee Chantilly, crispy malt Irish cream and brown butter milk jam.
On a rectangle of bourbon cake, the apple and caramel had a wheel of salted caramel maple parfait, apple pavé sour cream ice cream and crumbled bacon.
Petit fours concluded our Christmas dinner. From left to right: nougat, peppermint bark, ginger snap and hazelnut ganache.
It was a fun festive season in Whistler!
I walk through South Lake Union several times a week. The neighbourhood is busy during the week, especially on the Westlake thoroughfare from Whole Foods to Harrison. I noticed the construction site on the corner of Harrison and Terry many months ago and didn’t know it was Cactus until recently. I love the pink window frames!
Next to the trio of Tom Douglas restaurants in the Terry Avenue Building and opposite Portage Bay Café, it is an emerging dining hub. The eateries already do brisk business on weekdays but foot traffic is minimal on weekends.
Cactus is located in an elongated room with a high ceiling. A bar is at the entrance and the dining room splits to the right and left. A private function room is on the mezzanine level. Floor-to-ceiling glass filters in natural light and patterned cylindrical lampshades are elegant and muted in contrast to the colourful furnishings. Chairs were painted and upholstered in azure, lime, saffron and copper.
We were seated at a booth on a quiet Sunday lunch service. Hand painted motifs featured on each wooden table. The modern and vibrant space is welcoming and cheerful.
Mango agua fresca, a fizzy beverage of agave nectar, fresm lime, mango, mint and sparkling water was refreshing.
The other Cactus restaurants are in Alki Beach, Kirkland and Madison Park and each has a unique logo which is printed on the serviettes.
We nibbled on salsa, guacamole and corn chips while we perused the menu. The salsa casera, homemade salsa, was appetisingly piquant.
A basket of warm corn chips was plentiful for the bowl of guacamole. Avocado, cilantro, lime, onion, serrano chillis and pico de gallo mashed together as a chunky dip.
Mr S selected the fajitas with grilled skirt steak. A plate of condiments and warm flour tortillas accompanied the sizzling skillet of Spanish rice, cumin black beans and caramelised onions. There is a rustic charm in wrapping ingredients and eating it by hand.
There are two tacos per serving and the kitchen kindly accommodated my request to mix and match. Spanish rice and cumin black beans were requisite for a Mexican meal.
On a house made white corn tortilla, the pescado had a fillet of battered fish, coriander and pasilla coleslaw, pico de gallo and buttermilk crema. A little soggy, the flaky white fish absorbed the tangy flavours that were tempered by the squirt of buttermilk crema.
The second taco was carnitas Yucatecas, Carlton Farms pork in achiote marinade and roasted in banana leaves, caramelised pineapple, Cotija cheese and red onion escabeche. It is a delectable combination of tender meat, sweet pineapple and pickled onions.
Flan is a one of my favourite desserts and this three milk Cuban flan is one of the best I’ve tasted. The sepia toned custard was poised in a puddle of sticky sauce. It was firm, smooth and creamy, topped with a vanilla speckled layer of caramel.
Cactus is a welcomed addition to South Lake Union!
The Boeing Dreamliner, President Obama and Princess Mary all followed us to Australia. We’re enjoying the sunshine, jacarandas in bloom, wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, nostalgic walks, and sentimental meals.
Restore, revitalise, rejuvenate. Despite the beauty of the Seattle autumn I’ve had a bout of homesickness and this was a timely trip home.
In an effort to adjust to the time zone we spent our first day in Sydney in the city. We got lost in the asymmetrical corridors and oddly shaped levels of the new Westfield Sydney. I was delighted at the selection of restaurants and we had an early lunch at Chat Thai.
A modern and stylish design, the entrance of the eatery had a row of leather chairs and tiered floral displays. Timber planks covered the ceiling and a gleaming open plan kitchen entertained the crowds.
The interior is decorated in muted tones and featured exposed brick walls. Round and rectangle tables accommodated groups of varying sizes. We were seated quickly just before midday and within ten minutes the dining room was full.
The menu was a colour printed, hardcopy bound book with scrumptious photography. I had read that it had been ‘souvenired’ by many diners!
As is the custom at many Asian restaurants, the menu items were numbered. Nearly ninety dishes were categorised as starters, grilled and fried, spicy salads, curries and soups, wok fried, seafood, noodles, and ‘one plate wonders’. There was a separate menu for desserts and beverages.
A balance of salty, sweet, sour and bitter flavours is fundamental to Thai cuisine. Glass containers of condiments could be requested to moderate the seasoning.
Sticky and chewy, bites of fresh spring rolls were appetising. Smoked fish sausage, chicken and crab were wrapped in rice paper and doused in caramelised tamarind relish.
Morsels of poached snapper were tossed with a spicy dressing and salad leaves. The larpb bpla was fiery and delicious.
Ba mee haeng bped, roast duck with egg noodles, were piled into a ceramic bowl and garnished with green onions and cilantro. Simple yet delicious, the firm strands of egg noodles were perfectly paired with tender pieces of duck.
We reluctantly left without dessert but I lingered at the counter and spotted trays of kanom buaing, sweet wafers with meringue, and threads of candied egg yolk and herbs.
A basket of ripe mangoes were ready for sticky rice.
Instead of an apple a day, I will be eating mangoes!
On our last day in Anaheim, we explored Downtown Disney. Boulevards are lined with palm trees, gardens are groomed and pedestrian paths are flat and clean.
Lamp posts are topped with Mickey Mouse figurines. The S shaped block was lively with Disney themed stores, a cinema and several eateries. Speakers throughout the complex played pop music. It is a transient crowd as families shop and eat before or after the parks.
Tortilla Jo’s was in the middle of Downtown Disney. Tortilla Jo is a jolly gentleman with a lime sombrero and a handlebar moustache. The exterior of the restaurant is painted in ochre and rust.
On a warm day, we sat on the patio under the shade of an umbrella. The menu was the classic Mexican trio of taco, burrito and enchilada.
A petite cobalt bowl of salsa and a large basket of corn chips were served quickly. We nibbled on the complimentary snack as we perused the menu.
We shared the guacamole and fish tacos. A mound of mashed avocado, diced onions, chopped cilantro, lime juice and pico de gallo was presented on a faux mortar. It was fresh and appetising, especially when double dipped into the spicy salsa.
Two strips of mahi mahi were coated in chipotle lime glaze and pan seared. Each taco was wrapped in two tortillas with corn and cabbage coleslaw. Black beans and Mexican red rice were the sides. The fish was well cooked but a little sweet. It was the perfect portion for a light lunch!
A couple of hours in Downtown Disney were plenty and we returned home humming tunes from Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.
Disclosure: I received a demo product from Duo PR. This is not a sponsored post.
Our kitchen is notoriously gadget free. No blender, no food processor, no stand mixer, no sandwich press, no coffee maker. And for many years, no kettle. A toaster is the only gadget on our counter. I attended the Sharone Hakman and SousVide Supreme event a couple of months ago and received a demo unit afterwards.
The poppy red SousVide Supreme Demi was conspicuous on our counter. A modern design with rounded edges, there are only five separate components to the machine. A detachable power cord, an aluminium lid, a perforated grill and a stainless steel rack can all be contained within the machine making it easy to assemble, store and clean. I read the instruction booklet once and the display panel is simple to use.
A vacuum sealer is required to cook sous vide and it’s similar size to a laminator. About the length of the SousVide Supreme Demi, it is light and the power cord can be wound up underneath.
The food grade pouch is placed on the vacuum sealer, clicked closed and either sealed if there’s liquid or vacuum sealed.
Sous vide and modernist cuisine have a reputation for elaborate, deconstructed dishes. I don’t intend to replicate or create restaurant quality food. My goal is to test how sous vide applies to ordinary home cooking.
The first meal I cooked sous vide was salmon. We rarely cook seafood at home as I have an aversion to the lingering smells. The benefit of vacuum sealed poaching is it eliminates that. I followed this recipe for salmon with lemon and dill.
I coated two fillets of salmon in olive oil, finely chopped dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper, vacuum sealed and refrigerated them. The pouches were cooked sous vide at fifty two degrees Celsius for twenty minutes. I served the fish with roasted vegetables. It took a little planning to time the heating up of the water, preparing the salmon and roasting the vegetables. If done in an efficient order, dinner would have been ready in an hour by my calculation.
The plastic bags were cut open and discarded which lessens dishwashing but they are not biodegradable. The salmon retained its shape and the dill remained bright green.
Cooked evenly to a pinkish hue, the salmon was flaky and succulent. The temperature of the protein cooled quickly so ‘serve immediately’ is important. It paired well with roasted vegetables, its varying textures contrasted with the uniformity of the salmon.
My first experiment with the SousVide Supreme Demi was a success!